Friday night I continued my search for the Stanwood surname on the Library of Congress’ web site, Chronicling America. What an awesome site! My great-great grandparents, Albert and Lavina (Bursley) Stanwood, appeared several times in the Princeton Journal – typically when visiting their daughter Georgianna (Stanwood) Cravens. Here are some of my finds:
Author Archives: Lauren Mahieu
I really enjoy finding stuff.
I really hate filing stuff. (I believe I’ve mentioned that a time or two…or ten…in previous posts, lol.) Hence, I’d made (the unfortunate) decision to go digital in my filing system a couple of years ago. Of course, I kept all of the documents I had currently, as well as any new paper documents obtained from the courthouses or other places. I dutifully scanned those documents, and numbered them using reference number by document type. For example, all death certificates were numbered, beginning with the first certificate, which was DEATH 001, and the next DEATH 002, and so on. The paper copies were kept in a binder of death certificates, and the electronic copies were kept similarly. It seemed to make sense at the time. I stopped printing things I’d found online, and only saved those items electronically.
This left quite a few problems, but it took a couple of years for them to surface. It really became apparent when I returned from Salt Lake City last month. While I want my life to be electronic, there is still a ton of paper involved in genealogy. When I go on a research trip, rarely am I only researching on surname. Often I’m researching several related families, and can amass a ton of paper in a week-long trip. It can take months to analyze, complete the data entry and file these documents. If it’s a family I’m not actively researching, it can take even longer. What to do with all those notes and documents found? Typically they stayed in a file folder in my drawer. Or maybe they sat in a file on my desk. Or, maybe just in my filing basket. You get the picture.
The larger issue I found with my system was that the having the paper documents available by family to review is more effective than simply reviewing the electronic documents in my genealogy program. More importantly, if something happens to me, organized binders would be far easier for someone to see what research I’d completed and continue on.
So….I began a quest for a filing system, and borrowed a bit here and a bit there, but my system most closely mimics Dear Myrtle’s, which she describes in her January 2009 checklist. It took me a good couple of weeks to (mostly) complete, but here’s what I decided on:
- 3-ring binders with extra-wide dividers
- All supporting documentation is placed in page protectors, filed behind each Family Group Sheet
- All direct ancestors as well as collateral lines are included in the notebooks
- Some binders contain only one surname, while some contain several related surnames, if I’ve not yet done much research and wish to file with related families.
- Some surnames require three to four binders to hold the documentation. For my Stanwood family, for example, I have one binder for direct ancestors, and two binders for collateral families (A-M and N-Z).
I have a couple dozen binders now, but the best part is each has a “To Do” folder for any documents found or research completed that’s not yet been analyzed and entered into Roots Magic. Now, when I come home from a trip, I only need to file the related documents in that To Do folder, and when I work on that line, I have the current as well as “to be completed” stuff at my finger tips. It was quite an investment to switch to this filing system – binders, page protectors, dividers, and a new printer. It was an even bigger investment of time – printing off documents for which I only had electronic versions, and sorting all of my carefully numbered documents (DEATH 001, DEATH 002, etc.) by family. However, it was quite worth it. Just the process of filing these items revealed holes in my research.
Guess the moral of the story is don’t throw the baby, or the paper, out with the bathwater. At least for now, paper is here to stay.
I received my copy of the fifth edition of the Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research today, and have to say I’m impressed! When I originally ordered the book last Fall, I wondered if this would mirror the Handybook for Genealogists (a wonderful resource), or would it offer new content. (Surprisingly, I’ve not ever seen the previous four editions. How have I missed it all these years?) It certainly didn’t disappoint.
For each state, the book provides a summary of the state’s history, and then has a section discussing each of the following:
- Vital Records
- Church Records
- Probate Records
- Land Records
- Court Records
- Military Records
- Other Records
State repositories are listed with contact information, hours of operation, and types of records found within each. Next is a list of counties, followed by a helpful list of extinct counties. (From this I learned of Maine’s extinct county, “Old Lincoln”, which was part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1652-83. I would have otherwise incorrectly assumed Old Lincoln referenced the present-day county of Lincoln.)
What I like best about this new NEHGS publication is the many county maps that include details of the towns therein. This book will definitely be sitting on my desk for regular reference, as most of my research is centered in New England towns. Thanks, NEHGS, for a wonderful book. It was well worth the wait!
Family trees are full of mysteries. The one thing we can be sure that we know is that there is a lot that we DON’T know! :-) That’s a good reason to have a DNA test done. Hopefully it will help link us to others who DO know something about lines we are researching. Sometimes, instead of providing answers, DNA testing presents more questions. Yesterday jq1517 posted the following comment in response to My (free) Ancestry.com DNA results – a comparison to FamilyTreeDNA:
I looked at my results yesterday but was disappointed that my pedigree ethnicity was so different than my genetic ethnicity, enough to think perhaps there is a problem with my results. For instance, my results state that my genetic ethnicity is 91% British Isles, 6% Russian/Persian/Turkish, and 3% Other. This does not match my pedigree. My pedigree on both sides of parents is predominantly French, as most of my ancestors were French colonists of Canada, Acadia, and Louisiana. Out of the nearly 3,000 people in my family tree, I have none that are from the Russian/Persian/Turkish part of the world… that was a total surprise…
I can relate to his questions. I also had questions about my original autosomal DNA results through FTDNA. As mentioned in my earlier post, there were discrepancies on my grandmother’s paternal line. My grandmother was 17 when her father died. Four years later, she documented her family tree in my mother’s baby book, shown above. Here she documented Ernest’s birth place in Clarke County, Wisconsin. However, as “Grammer” aged, her account of her father’s heritage changed, adamantly stating Ernest was a half-sibling to his older brothers and his sister, having been born in South Dakota to a Native American. This simply did not seem plausible based on census records, what Ernest wrote on numerous documents for his own place of birth, and what my grandmother documented in Mom’s baby book when her memory would not have been influenced time and other factors. My grandmother stated there was a “cover up” in the family as it was not popular at that time to be Native American. I would be more inclined to give credence to this story if my grandmother had maintained it throughout her life. However, that is not the case, and now two DNA tests also refute the Native American myth in my family lines.
It is possible, however, that jq1517 has a bit of “covering up” going on his family tree. People remarry. People have affairs. Fathers raise children that are not their own. Sometimes the fathers don’t always know they are raising someone else’s biological child. Another scenario: I have a friend who was adopted and has met her birth mother, but has strong reason to believe that her adoptive father is actually birth father. (Hopefully one day she will complete DNA testing to confirm whether or not she has biological ties with her adoptive father’s family.) There are many, many explanations for why DNA testing reveals ethnicity that conflicts with our research.
The disadvantages of autosomal testing and my “wish list”
While autosomal DNA testing provides more opportunities for us to match with cousins, I’ve also found it quite challenging as times as it provides NO CLUE as to which side of your family you may be connected to potential cousins. This is especially true with more distant matches, as one has to research back many, many generations to find the common ancestor. To assist in this process, on my “wish list” for Ancestry.com (and FTDNA) is the ability to filter for event places. For example, last night I was reviewing the family trees of several of my potential matches on Ancestry.com, and after considerable time found we both have ancestors from Eden (now Bar Harbor), Maine, a likely place for a connection. In Ancestry, when viewing trees of your potential matches you can see the places of birth and death for individuals in the trees, where entered. However, wouldn’t it be neat to be able to see an indexed list of places for events of those listed in the tree? Instead of scanning the tree only for common surnames, one could also look at the places in the tree. It could easily reduce the time involved searching larger trees, if, for example, you saw your potential cousin had a great-great grandmother born in say, Penobscot County, Maine, and you know your great grandmother was born there in Bangor? With one click you could be taken to a list of individuals with events in Penobscot, thereby focusing your search into common geographic areas.
What’s on your wish list for DNA testing?
It seems like an eternity ago I received an email from Ancestry.com offering me a free autosomal DNA test. (Still don’t know why I was selected…were all Ancestry.com subscribers offered the free DNA testing or only their most neurotic users that spend most of their non-working, waking hours searching family history?) I immediately signed up, and shortly thereafter received my DNA kit, swabbed my cheek, sent it back and have been waiting.
This afternoon I received an email from Ancestry letting me know the results are finally in. I’ve been especially curious to see how they compare to FamilyTree DNA, which I took a couple years ago. So far, I’m very impressed with Ancestry.com’s very user-friendly interface.
Shown above is the graph of my 10-generation ancestry. No surprises there – my English, German and Norwegian roots are well represented, and it’s a second confirmation through DNA studies that my family has no Native American ties. (Near the end of her life my grandmother had insisted her father’s mother was Native American, but all records, as well as her own earlier notes, showed he was the product of Welch New England ancestors.)
I was especially curious to see how many close matches I would have through Ancestry’s DNA. I started off with five close matches (potential 4th-6th cousins) and 80 more distant cousins. Unfortunately, none of my close matches have yet linked their Ancestry trees with their DNA results, so I will have to be patient a bit longer. :-)
When viewing your DNA matches through Ancestry.com, you can filter matches by ethnicity. If I only wish to see those who also have Central European ties, I can click a link to see potential cousins. Of course, some of these cousins may also have other matching ethnicities, but it is one way of reducing the list of matches if you are wishing to search for potential cousins by geographic location.
When clicking on one of the matches, I’m given a comparison of ethnicity with the potential cousin:
I will be anxious for my close matches to connect to their results to their trees. Ancestry.com has made it really simple to identify surnames in common with your matches. Here’s a screenshot that shows the tree and surnames displayed for another distant match:
While I don’t have any new leads or other earth-shattering discoveries on Day 1 of receipt of my Ancestry.com DNA results, I am very impressed with the user interface, the ability to view connected family trees, and the ease in which one can filter results. I am hopeful that Ancestry’s DNA database will grow, resulting in new leads and connections with cousins, and that FamilyTreeDNA may learn from Ancestry.com’s design to make their own user portal a bit more user-friendly.
After my first day at the Family History Library, I realized I need a major over-haul of my research log. For quite a while now, I’ve used Excel to plan what materials to research at a repository and updated the spreadsheet with what I’d located. However, I didn’t have a really good way of incorporating that into a research log.
However, I think I’ve come up with a system that will work and is relatively simple to use. Above is the spreadsheet that I created before coming to Salt Lake City, listing the various films and books I wished to see for the state of New Hampshire. (I created other worksheets for additional states that I was focusing on.) To utilize this as a tool that can be referenced in RootsMagic 5′s internal research log, I added a column for a reference number on the far left.
Another modification is the use of a link to Evernote, as applicable, in the column on the far right. Included is a brief summary to identify what was found, and a link to more comprehensive details that are saved in Evernote with scanned images, when available. For example, Daniel Wescott was found in the New Hampshire Provincial probate records (Ref. ID #110). The blue hyperlink shown in the far right takes me to this page in Evernote:
This evening I will be working on entering my research results into RootsMagic’s new research log function. I’ve just started experimenting with this, but think it will be helpful to utilize this new feature in RM 5 so that all research results are available within the program at a glance. Here are a couple of screen shots, using the search above completed for NH probate records:
And here is the completed log in RootsMagic:
While this process may take a couple more steps, in the long run it is saving me time, as I know what I’ve checked, and can easily reference these lists when at other repositories.
What do you use for your research log? If you are a RootsMagic user, have you started to utilize their tool?
I feel like a kid that ditched church to go fishing.
I was bad.
I was VERY bad!
Here I am in Salt Lake City, registered for the RootsTech conference, but spent 80% of my time at…..DRUM ROLL please….THE FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The library has been a place I’ve sought to visit for the last 25 years. After checking in to my hotel on Wednesday, I made a beeline for the library and oriented myself to the various floors and holdings. Thankfully, it’s very user friendly and organized well. I made quite a few finds, but most importantly, found a book, written in 1991, on the Westcoat/Wescoat/Westcott/Wescott/Wasgatt family. There wasn’t a ton of new info on my own line, but I did get a few new hints to follow up on. In addition, I was able to review dozens of rolls of microfilm and books, and have completely overhauled how I’m handling my research log. (See my post about Excel, Evernote and Roots Magic here.)
Back to RootsTech…the sessions I did go to were very good. I will leave the details to the official bloggers who’ve done a phenomenal job covering the event. The energy and amount of interest in genealogy was awesome. Oh yes…also had to make my purchases in the Exhibit Hall.
Here’s my loot:
I’m hoping to listen to Karen Clifford’s webinar, “Organizing For Success” at the airport on my way home tomorrow. While I may not have had as much time as I’d planned at the conference, my time here in SLC was certainly well spent!
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network has produced a wonderful series entitled, “The Story of Maine.” The YouTube video above shows Part I of Program 3 in the series, “They Came By Sea.” (You can download the entire broadcast here.)
This was particularly interesting to me with deep roots in Mount Desert Island, Maine, where my 5th Great Grandfather, Capt. Benjamin B. Stanwood, was born. The sea was a way of life for many in that region, whether supporting their families by fishing, boat building, sailing, or as in the case of Benjamin, as ship’s captain. The video showed how many wives would take their children and join their husbands on board. I wonder if Benjamin’s wife, Margaret (Wasgatt) Stanwood, was one of those adventuresome types, sailing abroad, or did she stay home with their children? Another question to ponder in my ancestral search!
There is a story behind each name we discover, each date we enter into our genealogy databases. As new genealogists, most of us began simply seeking those names and dates; however, as we grow in our research and learn the value of reverse genealogy (working forward to assist in find out more about the past), many of us find ourselves seeking our living relatives. When we are able to connect with cousins or others who may be researching our same family lines, our research can expand exponentially, and most importantly, we can begin to learn the stories of those who lived before us.
Earlier this week I received a large envelope full of photographs sent by my grandmother’s fifth cousin, Madge Pedersen. I “met” Madge online after doing a Google search for others descended from Thomas and Margaret (Davis) Wasgatt, and we’ve been corresponding for several weeks now. I was touched that she would entrust me with such old photographs, which I scanned and cataloged yesterday. Included in the envelope were obituaries, including one for Frank G. Wasgatt, shown in the photo above.
Having followed the trail of documents left by this branch of the Wasgatt family who migrated west from Maine to Minnesota, it was wonderful to see photographs of the Wasgatt boys, and of Frank, their father. There was much more to his life than simply dates of birth, marriage and death. He was a husband, a father. A coach. A star athlete. A lawyer. He was a living, breathing, vibrant person.
Yes, genealogy is about solving the puzzles of relationships, of findings names and dates, beginnings and endings. But it’s also about history, about people, and the lives they lead…and the lives they touched.
Growing up I always had pen and paper in hand. I’d sketch out newspaper templates, and would write amusing articles for my family’s enjoyment. As I grew older, the pen was replaced by a typewriter. In my Sophomore year at Elsinore Union High School, I was given the opportunity to write for The Rancho News, where I’d cover the happenings at our local high school for the community newspaper.
By 15, I was taken on as a paid, freelance reporter. Toting my 35mm camera, I’d cover stories such as the design of the Riverside County Emergency Medical Services (the predecessor of 911), area floods, and how the gas crisis of 1979 was affecting Temecula residents. My first paycheck was a whopping $18.37, but I was in heaven – getting paid for something I LOVED! My dream was to become a photojournalist, but in the end, I decided to be practical chose the nursing profession- it pays the bills! But I digress. :-)
I have some opportunities for writing projects at work as a healthcare executive, but most of my pen-and-paper (okay, word processor) outlets are enjoyed at home. Enter Scrivener! From Literature & Latte, the producers of this cool software application:
“Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.”
I first learned of Scrivener as Lisa Alzo discussed her favorite writing tools as a guest speaker on Geneabloggers Radio. I’m still playing with the trial version of Scrivener (it gives you 30 non-consecutive days to test-drive it before deciding if you wish to pay the reasonable $40 purchase price), but I’m pretty sure this is the tool that is going to help me write “The Wasgatt Book.” What I like best:
- You can organize your notes and your media in separate folders which can be referenced as you write your draft. No more switching between multiple files, programs and databases!
- Electronic “index cards” allow you to create a synopsis that can be organized.
- Customized labels allow for color-coding. I’ve selected a color for each of Thomas and Margaret (Davis) Wasgatt’s eleven children, allowing me to focus on each line of descent individually.
- Items can be tagged; for example, my index cards above all show “to do,” allowing me to see where I am in the writing process.
- “Scrivener Links” that create a split-screen; you can view a document in the bottom of your screen while completing your draft in the window above. Great for referencing PDFs, images, or other documents within in your file!
I am barely scratching the surface of Scrivener’s many features and abilities in this brief intro, as I’m still quite a neonate in my usage. However, the software is very intuitive while still providing sophisticated tools to help with your research/writing project, no matter how large or small. Check out Literature & Latte for more info. Happy writing!